How Not to Be a PR Pest

Marketing strategy tips
If you don’t have something worthwhile to say, then don’t say anything at all.

Becoming a PR pest is as easy as making one bad phone call. Take these three tips into consideration when planning your marketing strategy.

While it’s important to approach editors with timely and engaging news stories, it’s just as critical to know when not to approach them. Most PR people – heck, even me – have been PR pests, and once you’ve blown your credibility with an editor or reporter your future emails will be deleted. Consider this zero tolerance policy before you hit send.

Never make the unnecessary follow-up call

Don’t ever call an editor and say, “I’m just calling to follow up on the press release I sent you last week about the new acai berry deodorant stick, including its many health benefits plus non-staining features.” Reciting the release like a sixth grader reading a school play doesn’t lend you any credibility. The editor has already read your email and unless you have crucial details that warrant a follow-up, you will likely get a quick goodbye.

Never send a release to your entire database

The political columnist doesn’t care about your deodorant sticks. You’re far more likely to gain coverage if you write a release targeted to a specific group (for example, alternative health writers or beauty editors) or even a specific writer or editor.

Never write a release that reads like advertising or marketing copy

While this may be the aim of the marketing director, this is not the goal of the news release. To my enduring chagrin, I’ve flaunted this commandment many times, inserting “granite countertops and real cupboard doors that open and close,” and other marketing hyperbole into my releases. Sometimes clients insist on these advertorial-sounding bits, but I recommend at least moving them to the bottom of the release.

Even if you’ve avoided these career-wreckers, you know you’re a PR pest when you send out scores of releases, make lots of calls, and receive no responses to your pleading…er, press release. Pressure from clients can fuel this behaviour, but do your best to resist the siren song of the pest. We’ve all been there, but while deodorants may come and go, you hope your career will last longer than one inch of greasy propylene glycol.

I still have occasional night sweats about calls I’ve made to media over the years. Looking back, I think they’ve largely demonstrated great patience listening to my spiel about the good people behind the pay-day loans company, and how they really want to give consumers a helping hand and would they be interested in interviewing them about their very reasonable rates and why they provide a terrific service to Canadians…?